This is the time of year for looking forward, perhaps taking stock and learning from the past but not dwelling on mistakes.
I was preparing to use this weekend blog to list my “achievements” of 2015, books read, films and plays seen, miles travelled, flights taken (& missed), hotels away from home and yadda, yadda, yadda. People do this either in blog or social media so perhaps I should join the gang? There’s a fine line between marketing, blatant self promotion and seeing your own life through rose-tinted spectacles – not that there’s anything wrong with donning the specs now and then. It doesn’t come naturally to me and I tend to hide my lamp under a bushel, and whilst I do agree that, “the unexamined life is not worth living” I’ll let my actions speak for themselves and stick to doing the examining and reflecting (mostly) on my own, thanks.
The catalyst for my change of mind was reading the summary of the obituaries from The New York Times , one in particular caught my eye and my imagination. This was a report of the death of Nicholas Winton who died in his sleep in hospital at the age of 106. His death was reported on the website of the Rotary Club of Maidenhead where Sir Nicholas, he was knighted in 2003, had lived. Born in London of a German-Jewish family who converted to Christianity, his father was a merchant banker, he was brought up in comfort and attended Stowe School. He worked in banking in Berlin and Paris, learned to speak the local languages then returned to London and became a stockbroker.
He was a skilled fencer and enjoyed alpine sports but on a whim in December 1938 he cancelled a skiing holiday to join a friend in Prague who was helping refugees. Here he found vast camps of Jewish refugees living in dreadful conditions, there were restrictions against their immigrating to the West but the UK was an exception.
This is not the place to list what he manage except to say that using his own money for bribing officials and other legitimate expenses he managed to help 669 children escape certain death by transporting them to the UK.
The point of this tale is that he didn’t tell anybody about it and it was only when his wife found his scrapbooks with the lists of names, photographs and reports in 1998 that it came to light. His first reaction was to tell her to throw them away as they would not be of interest to anyone.
So please click this link to read about a someone who really did something and then got on with his life. I hope it will inspire you.
PS My year in summary: I made a lot of mistakes, and turned a few of them into new Terms & Conditions and hopefully a few more into lessons learned. Going with the flow usually seems to work out though. Thanks to photographer Paul Clarke for this summary which I have borrowed. Of course if folks didn’t post things like Paul’s on social media I wouldn’t have read it and repeated!